Review 2776

Just over three months old the time of review, this running blog for is still in its infancy. The idea of the blog – to keep SoHo Tampa folks informed – is certainly a good and obviously helpful idea. This weblog probably won’t have any impact on anyone not living in the SoHo area of Tampa, FL. It’s a blog directed primarily towards people who live in that area, or who might know of people that do live there.

The very first entry into this weblog states “Our main objective with the ‘blog is to create a clearinghouse of news that affects you and the area you cherish.” This post by Mr. Bill gives the goals he had in mind when creating this weblog. His first goal of wanting to “establish a stronger bond between businesses and residents of SOHO” comes across as a great idea. Posts covering topics like the hurricanes that recently slammed into the Tampa area and expansion of different historic districts in the area, for instance, are excellent attributes in informing the residents of the SoHo area. However, a meme post and a post that states very strong opinions like this one without any information to back them up doesn’t really fit into building that stronger bond. In my opinion, it almost makes the site lose credibility as a serious source for SoHo news and updates.

Two contributors are listed for the site – Rachel and Mr. Bill. Since the site isn’t really about getting to know the authors or anything about their personal lives, readers aren’t really able to find out about the people behind the posts. On one hand, that probably doesn’t matter to some people. On the other, though, it’d be nice for readers to know why they should take the opinions of these two contributors seriously. Are they teenagers just looking for an outlet? Longtime residents of the SoHo area, who do have experiences to back up their facts and opinions? A little more background information would be helpful about these two somewhat mysterious contributors.

The layout just stems from a standard Blogger template, but for a weblog that’s focused mainly on informing readers, rather than entertaining or amusing them, the layout works. The only downfall is the fact that light-colored text on a black background may be hard to read for some people. The banner of the site at the top, a column running alongside the actual blog content is full of links to the archives and other what seem to be Tampa-related sites.

As previously stated, this weblog is more ideal for people living in the SoHo Tampa area. As someone far from that area, this weblog did provide more intimate details of the area that I never would have learned elsewhere. I’m sure there are even posts that may bring unknown information to locals, too. I didn’t feel like this weblog fulfilled its potential or its purpose. There were too many jabs in the community and/or government’s general direction that didn’t have any reasoning to make those comments believable or justified. If a weblog’s going to bring the bond between businesses and residents closer together, this isn’t the way to do

Review 2776

It’s none more black for this Florida blogger; though I find it difficult to criticize the lack of flare on the standardized blogger template: diarists aren’t expected to have a degree in Dreamweaver or HTML. Still, the drabness gets to me right away. It’s late and my bespectacled eyes are squinting to read the text. A larger font is recommended: I would stay away from the 10 pt. Times New Roman and lean closer to the more readable Verdana, which is evident in the right hand column. The layout is pretty standard as blogs go: the blogroll itself seems little lengthy for my tastes. Skimming the titles, however, I realize a local Floridian may find the links extremely useful.

The writing itself tries very hard to be sophisticated, injecting high-level SAT words where they don’t belong. It rings of plagiarism as the big words don’t jive well with the lackluster content. Neither Rachel nor Mr. Bill appears to acknowledge the other’s presence on this group blog, which is unfortunate. SoHo Tampa would benefit from any rapport the two could establish as we don’t even understand their relationship. Some sentences sport the clever f*ur letter word, or variations thereof, which doesn’t always come across as playful as the author(s) would have it. I would recommend establishing a general theme and adding this description to the site in order to aid the reader in understanding the content better.

Finally, I’d like to stress to the authors that it is so important to consider your audience when you write. To grab their attention, you must consider that new visitors will find it difficult to pickup your site in its present state: not everyone will have it in mind to search out the maiden voyage post. To other readers out there: understand that unless you live in Tampa, this blog may not apply!

Review 2675

I hadn’t paid too much attention to the irony of the title when I went on in to this blog and I just thought it might just be some vague hippy blog. I also was quite relieved to have passed up reviewing a pink blog written by a Mum about her three kids. Anyway, I seem to have ended up with almost the direct polar opposite in terms of content – a nice hippy blog this isn’t.

The template is harmless enough and Blogspot blogs are looking so much nicer now that they have removed the Google Textad boxes from the top. I would almost go so far as to say they are now tasteful. This blog would be particularly tasteful if a) the sidebar wasn’t too wide and all the posts had been pushed down to the bottom (though to be fair I think it was our referral URL in the sidebar which caused this) and b) there was slightly less clutter in the sidebars generally. And also, I am never quite sure why Blogger profiles never actually reveal any information about the author. So the site could use a little tidying up, but generally it looks pretty good I guess.

As soon as I started reading the content I was made to laugh. This blog is generally funny through out, but the front page was hysterical. The author writes posts which are (generally) witty, controversial rants about her day to day life. She is from NYC and I guess she must be the blogging equivalent of Eminem – life is harsh and gritty, her posts are full of swearing and are politically incorrect and there is an underlying fierce intelligence throughout. As with Eminem though, this blog is not to be taken too seriously and not for the easily offended.

Having said that, it is certainly one of the most exciting, amusing blogs I have read for a long time and as it happens, I a big fan of our man Mathers. I don’t know how close the entries are to reality but whatever, she certainly tells a good story either way. Whilst there are a lot of acerbic tirades found within (which can get a bit wearing after a while) there are also some real gems too. As well as angry, she can also do interesting, sweet, caring and insightful. I read a fascinating article about the Calvin and Hobbes copyright being flouted, found out about her rather crazy family and read a post directly addressed to an ex who seems to be stalking her through her blog. A lot of the posts are very long, and there are loads of archives too so this blog needs a fair amount of time to get in to. I found some of the posts slightly inaccessible as well, due to the rather high number of American cultural references included which, being a Brit, went over my head a little. I got most of the music references found amongst the writing though, and they were appreciated.

This is one of the most rewarding, engaging blogs I have read in a long time. I have taken a few marks off because the site could use some work and I guess not everyone would like it, but I found the content to be as stimulating, funny and extreme as can be found anywhere.
Chicken Soup For the Vegan Soul

Review 2651

If you want cool, this blog’s got the look. Arriving at Pacing the Cage, we find an image of what we must assume to be Dan, the author, gazing back at us from under the brim of a dark hat, smoking a cigarette. The blog is crisp and compact with a shades-of-black color scheme that blends well with the insinuation of the title; the dark theme and evaluative gaze of the image certainly suggest that the Dan’s got something on his mind.

It’s a personal weblog and some of the entries update us on the Dan’s whereabouts and such, but for the most part Dan, with the style of a storyteller, leads us into questions of philosophy, theology, and society with smooth, informal, prose, almost poetic at times, and a fair amount of confidence in his ideas. The writing is generally clear and precise, though sometimes it ascends to a more academic tone dotted with references to various theories and philosophers, leading one to believe that he’s studied philosophy at some point in his pacing. Sometimes the topics seem to be comments about what’s keeping him awake at night, but he is often led to a topic by current news or some everyday event in his life and many of his entries are peppered with amusing, if sometimes raw, opinions. His views are, for the most part, conservative, but if you have any interest at all in philosophy or the human condition in the world today, Pacing the Cage will, at the very least, stimulate you whether you agree with what’s being said or not.

The blog’s layout is clean and unique. It’s the best design I’ve yet to come across for a personal blog. The current entries reside in their own frame on the left, enabling the user to scroll through the entries while leaving the categorized, pop-up navigation links stationary on the right, and unlike most blogs, there’s no clutter, no confusion, no endless list of links. You can roll the mouse over the “archives”, “recent entries”, or “links” text to the right of the entry window and the actual links will pop up. Dan isn’t interested in blog status or link whoring – the 9 links he lists are to sites that he actually reads – and the archives only go back a few months. The only thing I would like to see changed would be a bigger frame for the entries so I could read or scan more without so much scrolling. It would also be great to see a categorized archive, but these are just minor personal preferences on my part.

Pacing the Cage is an excellent blog. The design is exceptional and the content is stimulating, easy to read, and insightful. If you’re looking for design inspiration, this site is worth a visit and if you’re plagued by the questions that weigh down mankind and you’re ready for a candid, eloquent, and amusing look at these questions, Pacing the Cage is a must-see.
Pacing The Cage

Review 2599

Okay, so I open up Dianarchy expecting to see total anarchy in the design as the name would suggest, but instead I was confronted by a blogspot template. The bland white and baby blue color scheme left something to desired and the large, text only header and menu system with a few links made me want to see some pictures. Or graphics. Or something.

But I remind myself this is about the writing, so I dive right into the archives to the beginning of the blog, which got started by Diana (Diana=Dianarchy. I get it now) in August of 2003. The beginnings are fairly rocky, with posts about living in New York, taxi drivers and PMS. But there’s something rather curious about her writing, and I continue reading to see how this develops.

Further into the blog, I notice a distinct voice developing in the writing. Some posts tend to be long with dense paragraphs, but they have an interesting tone. It’s written from a stream-of-consciousness female perspective and topics don’t stray too far from definitively female subjects: Everything from men and the oh-so-female concerns of weight and looks to, again, men and being a graduate student. And men. The writing reads something like an episode of Sex in the City mixed with any album by The Cure. If you can imagine such a combination.

As I’ve said before, the design could benefit from a little pizzazz that would show off the writing, which should be the hero here. The writing is generally solid and well written and shows glimpses of true talent and I would like to see how that evolves. My major complaint is that the paragraphs tend to be long and could benefit from a few well-placed paragraph breaks and objective self-editing. Though, all-in-all, the witing itself shows plenty of potential.I’ll be checking in to see how the style develops.Dianarchy: A Day in the Life